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[MM Curator Summary]: The brand we haven’t seen since 2014 returns.
The return of the Wellpoint brand is the payer’s latest corporate reinvention.
Published Aug. 1, 2023
Rebecca Pifer Senior Reporter
Elevance headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Permission granted by Elevance Health
Blues plan giant Elevance is rebranding its entire Amerigroup segment to Wellpoint, saying the move signifies the health insurer’s commitment to whole-person health.
Elevance’s relaunch of the Wellpoint brand — the payer’s original name from its founding — is meant to unify its Medicaid, Medicare and commercial health plans in select markets, states where Elevance doesn’t offer Blue Cross and Blue Shield branded products, the payer said.
The rebrand announced Monday will roll out in January 2024 in six states: Arizona, Iowa, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Amerigroup plans in Maryland were rebranded as Wellpoint earlier this year.
The Amerigroup brand will remain in Washington, D.C. and Georgia, which are on a separate timeline for rebranding, according to an Elevance spokesperson.
The Indianapolis-based payer first announced the rebrand last summer along with the unveiling of its healthcare services business, Carelon, as payers continue to invest in nontraditional offerings to find new areas of growth. Carelon includes Elevance’s pharmacy benefit management company CarelonRx.
Elevance doesn’t break down members by state, but currently covers roughly 3 million Medicare members and 11.7 million Medicaid members.
The Medicaid program is facing significant turmoil as states resume eligibility checks for the safety-net coverage that were put on hold during the pandemic.
The majority of beneficiaries who have lost coverage have lost it due to procedural reasons, such as improper paperwork, rather than true ineligibility. Regulators have cited a number of hurdles to a smooth redeterminations process, including a lack of resources and state experience with redeterminations, the volume of people to process and difficulty communicating updates to enrollees.
Elevance did not respond to a question on whether it is concerned renaming its Medicaid plans during the redeterminations process might add another layer of confusion for enrollees.
The spokesperson did note that Wellpoint’s website is currently live, and Elevance has begun an advertising campaign on the rebranding that will run through the rest of the year. Elevance also plans to reach out to affected members directly regarding the business’ name change.
Elevance, which covers 48 million people nationwide, is no stranger to rebrands.
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Roughly three decades ago, Blue Cross of California created WellPoint Health Networks to operate its for-profit managed care business. The company was renamed as WellPoint in 2004, following a merger with insurer Anthem.
In 2014, WellPoint changed its name to Anthem — the brand of the majority of its healthcare insurance products. Anthem then rebranded as Elevance last year, saying the name change was necessary to highlight its offerings beyond traditional health insurance.
The latest rebranding of Amerigroup to Wellpoint won’t affect Wellpoint members’ benefits or coverage, according to the payer. The spokesperson did not respond to questions on how much Elevance is investing on the rebrand.
The payer reported second-quarter earnings earlier this month that beat analyst expectations, with revenue of $43.7 billion and profit of $1.9 billion.
Payers with significant exposure to redeterminations like Elevance — the second-largest Medicaid managed care organization in the U.S., after Centene — are trying to recapture lost Medicaid lives in other plans, including on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Elevance lost 135,000 people from its Medicaid rolls due to redeterminations in the second quarter.
The payer said it expects roughly 45% of beneficiaries added to Medicaid during the public health emergency will stay on the safety-net coverage by the end of the redeterminations cycle, while 20% will end up on its ACA products.